Language Learning Blog | Rocket Languages

Hola, Ciao, and Salut Language Lovers,

Easter EggsEaster is nearly upon us again, and for a large number of people in the US that means one of two things: either a very important Christian celebration, or a very important chocolate celebration.

In the Christian tradition Easter is a time to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. However there are many aspects of our current Easter celebrations that pre-date Christianity.

Some say that Easter got its name from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring. Back then, at about this time of year, many people celebrated the end of winter and the new life brought about by the improving weather. With all the new shoots and leaves, as well as the birth of new animals and livestock, it’s easy to see how such a time could be one of celebration after the travails of winter.

It could be that this is also where chocolate lovers’ favorite Easter things originate from. Rabbits and Hares have long been a symbol of fertility and of new life. What better figure to characterize a time of rebirth than that of a Bunny.

And as for easter eggs, there are a couple of ideas about them too. The most obvious is the link between eggs and fertility; the egg as a symbol of new life was common across ancient cultures. Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans all used eggs as a part of their spring festivals.

The second idea has a basis in Christianity.

Back in the Medieval Europe it was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent. As a result, eggs produced during that time were often boiled or preserved in some way, and became a very important part of the Easter meal once Lent had finished. So eggs became a key element of Easter.

In cultural terms, different things go on in different parts of the world at this time of year…

In Norway they have what they call Paaskekrim, or Easter-crime. No, it’s not an excuse to break the law, it’s the tradition of reading a crime novel or watching a detective show on TV over the Easter break.

In Corfu, Greece, on the other hand, there’s a tradition of throwing earthenware pots, pans, and other containers out of windows so they smash on the street. Apparently this stems from an old Venetian custom of throwing out all their old stuff in the spring time. A new spin on spring-cleaning?

In the town of Verges in Spain they celebrate easter with the traditional Dansa de la Mort or Dance of Death. In this slightly macabre custom people dress up like skeletons and dance through the streets. One for the night owls among us, this parade begins at midnight and lasts until the wee small hours of the morning.

While in Bermuda they take a more relaxed approach, celebrating Good Friday by flying kites. The story goes that the only way a Christian teacher could think of to explain how Jesus ascended to heaven to a group of children was to make a kite and fly it. Very nice.

As you can see Easter means different things to different people. However, no matter where you are in the world Easter is a great time to take stock, observe the change of seasons, and look ahead to what the rest of your year has in store for you.

Just a thought, perhaps now would be a good time to start learning a new language too…

If  you’re interested you can get a great deal over the Easter weekend. Just visit the Rocket Languages home page from April 18 to find out more.

Happy Easter from the team at Rocket Languages.

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Salut tout le monde

As you probably know by now, here at Rocket Languages we are all about maximizing your language learning time, so that you get the most effective learning possible in the shortest time. Certainly, the recently released Play it! falls into this category.

What is equally important with language learning is sticking at it! To make the most progress it’s imperative that you do some learning on a regular basis, even if it’s only a few minutes a day. After all… how do you eat an elephant? One (regular) bite at a time!

That’s where My Rocket Scheduler comes in…

If you check your Dashboard you will see My Rocket Scheduler at the top of the page:

My Scheduler on your Dashboard

My Rocket Scheduler is a motivational tool that uses the “don’t break the chain” method to help you form good learning habits. Each day you use any feature to gain points, the current day on the Scheduler will turn green!

Over time you will get into the rhythm of doing some language learning every day. And you will be able to see the length of your longest streak and your current active streak.

If you have set days that you wish to learn then just click Settings to select those days.

An important point! Please use Settings to select your correct time zone, so that days and points are accurate. If you are heading overseas you can change this to suit your new time zone.

If you decide that you don’t want to use My Rocket Scheduler then you can hide it by clicking the “close” icon on the Scheduler itself. You can always get it back by going to My Profile.

Hot tip! Set the Dashboard as the default page on your browser, so that every day you are reminded to keep the streak going!

All the best with your language learning!

Jason Oxenham
CEO
Rocket Languages

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Bonjour tout le monde (Hello everyone)

Hooray for Play It!

Celebrating the launch of Play It!

After over 6 months of development, I am excited to announce a brand new learning tool that has been added to your Rocket Languages course. You are probably already familiar with the Testing section, and the tests like Hear it Say it!, Write it! and Know it!. Well, now we have a new test for the Interactive Audio Course (IAC) Lessons… Play it!

Play it! utilizes the role play tracks from the IAC lessons in a way that is designed to get you speaking out loud and get you really thinking on your feet. What’s more, once you have used Play it! for a while, you will notice that your conversational ability will increase markedly. Over time the sentence structures and the ability to recite those common phrases become second nature.

I would like to send a thank you to all of our beta-testers. We enlisted quite a few existing Rocket Languages members to act as beta-testers, and their suggestions have made Play it! much better than we originally had it.

In fact, here are some comments about play it! from one of those beta-testers, Cathy…

Play it is an enhancement to the other Tests currently in use by Rocket languages as teaching and learning tools. What this test does is to enable the student to immerse him or herself in conversation. Immersion is a proven way to really internalize a language. By repetition, we become more and more confident… more and more able and willing to actively participate in role playing thus acquiring the accents, and inflections of the native speaker..

It is a self paced format. No one is over our shoulder pressuring us  or criticizing us. We are our own judges of our competency level. The grammar and vocabulary used have been consistently taught throughout the course. We are now able to find pride at the ease with which we see ourselves fully understanding the sentences.

From my own personal experiences in learning  a foreign language prior to Rocket Languages, I found that immersion coupled with extensive knowledge of grammar and vocabulary allowed me to become a native speaker very quickly.

Play it! is in this school of thought. We are immersed in conversation. We are using the vocabulary and grammar learned previously and we are now able to reap the fruits of our efforts with Play it!. We are playing the role of a native speaker. We can fall back at any given time on the recording to adjust our accents and inflections. All in the privacy of wherever we choose to be at any given time. Best of all as I have mentioned with no pressure. It simply cannot get any better  than that!

Kindly

Cathy W 

So, as you can see, our beta-testers loved the concept. So, what are you waiting for? Just head into any Interactive Audio Course lesson and give it a go!

Actually before you go, a couple of words of warning!

1. You will need a headset/headphones to use Play it! properly

2. We currently use Flash to drive Play it! And the Flash set up is different to that used in Rocket Record. So, if you have any issues using Play it! please click the green “Help” button in the Play it! section.

All the best with your language learning

Jason Oxenham
CEO
Rocket Languages

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Nihao, Anyoung, and Hallo Language Lovers,

iStock_000009721455MediumSo, how to do you learn best?

Did you even know that there’s more than one way?

Because the fact is that we’re all different, and we all learn stuff a little differently from each other.

Here at Rocket Languages we work hard to make sure we give all our learners the best chance possible to learn the language they love.

That’s why a big part of our Rocket Express Learning System® is Neil Fleming’s VARK model.

What’s a VARK I hear you say. No, it’s not the sound of a dog with a speech impediment, nor is it the name of an obscure Arctic bird. In fact the VARK model is a theory discovered by a teacher named Neil Fleming that asserts that all people use a combination of four basic learning styles to learn anything.

The word VARK is an acronym that stands for:

Visual
Auditory
Read/write
Kinesthetic

If you’re a visual learner you learn best by seeing how things are done, by watching demonstrations, or by looking at graphs and images.

Auditory learners, on the other hand, learn best by hearing information. These learners do the best in situations like lectures, or by listening to audio tracks etc…

Learners that favor Reading and Writing are usually great note takers. They do well when they can read information in a book, in a handout, or on a screen, then paraphrase it for themselves.

Finally Kinesthetic learners are the doers. These people really thrive when they can get their hands dirty and have a go at whatever it is their learning. In fact, just moving about while the lesson is happening is often enough for the learning to stick.

Perhaps the key thing about the VARK model is that it’s reasonably rare for anyone to be just one type of learner. Most of us use a combination of all, but have a preference for one or two in particular.

That’s why any learning program worth it’s salt, like all Rocket Languages courses, will include a variety of activities and presentation methods. Because, even if you favor one learning style, there will be times when you need a change. And considering multiple learning styles when you design a course means that you can reach the widest range of learners possible.

So next time you’re thinking of learning something, have a close look at the course content:

  • Are there a variety of ways to learn?
  • Do they teach the way you learn best?
  • Will you get bored quickly by doing the same stuff over and over again?

And to find out more about your personal learning style head here.

Happy Language Learning

The Rocket Languages Team

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Bonjour, Ciao, and Konnichiwa Language Lovers,

1662It’s Thanksgiving weekend, but for many it’s not so much about giving thanks as it is about trying to find the best deals possible at the start of the holiday season…. For many retailers it’s all about those big sales days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and offering deals so they make as many sales as possible.

The language learning niche is no different. All the providers are having sales, making deals, and offering all sorts of low prices and added value. Which is great for those who are ready to take the plunge into a whole new world of language and culture, and already have an idea about the learning system they want.

Some things don’t change though, they just get cheaper…

Regardless of how well priced a learning system is, if it doesn’t suit your learning style, if it isn’t comprehensive, then it’s not money well spent.

So lets have a look at what makes a good online learning system.

Now, you may say that we’re biased, and we are to an extent. We certainly believe that what we offer is the best of the best. But I’m not interested in comparing companies and what they have to offer, I want to look at what works for language learners just like you.

There’s long been a basic philosophical disagreement about whether immersion or other methods work best. The argument goes something like this:

As children we learn to speak our native language by being immersed in it. There is no prompting, there are no explanations, you learn by trial and error, and by copying others.

And that’s true, as far as it goes.

By extension that means the best way to pick up a second language is to live, eat, sleep, and breathe it. Which is all very well if you have the money and the time to go live somewhere that speaks the language. Even then, I’ve heard that it’s a very hard row to hoe, full of stress, and loneliness.

And you can’t really do true immersion in your own, English speaking community.

Another school of thought is that the best way to learn is to take lessons and classes that give you step by step instructions about how to speak a language. You know, learning by rote, like we did with the times tables at school…

The problem with that approach is the lack of real native language speakers giving you feedback. The exact thing that makes immersion work well.

So, some sort of hybrid is in order, a way to learn from native speakers, and get good feedback, without having to break the bank traveling, or get all lonely and depressed. You need to be able to practice effectively and get clear accurate explanations about how the language works. You need to be able to test yourself to find out where you’re at, and see progress as you get better.

So this Thanksgiving, when the big sales are on, and everyone’s promising the moon, take a step back, think about exactly how you learn best, what you need to get the job done, and select a system that gives it to you.

Because the best spend of your money is on the one that works, not necessarily the cheapest one.

Happy Thanksgiving,

The Rocket Languages Team.

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Olà, Nîhâo, and Salut Language Lovers,

Give thanks for language.It’s nearly Thanksgiving. Time to give thanks for all the things, past and present, that have made our lives what they are today. And one of the things that we probably all take for granted, but should certainly all be thankful for, is the gift of language.

Your own native language, whatever that may be, is your key connection to family, friends, and your local community. Luckily, most of us are raised to be able to communicate freely in whatever language it is that’s native to the area where we were born. But we don’t all stay near where we’re born.

It’s language that allows us to ask for the things that make our lives easier or better in one way or another. Language gives us the tools to share information that may help others. Language gives us recreational joy in the form of books, and drama, and songs, and conversation. Language allows us to express ourselves and our views to those that will listen, which is certainly good for us, if not always for them.

All in all language plays a huge part in how we perceive ourselves, how we are perceived, and the choices we make in our lives.

As children our lack of language skill is compensated for by the care our parents take of us until we’re able to express ourselves clearly. But what happens when you’re an adult in an environment where your language ability and knowledge is limited or nonexistent?

That’s the way it is for thousands of people around the world every day. People who are visiting foreign communities for vacation, for work, to see new things, or to get away from old ones. Just like a child in a world full of articulate adults, people trying to get by in environments where the language is foreign to them are at a distinct disadvantage. Even more so because they tend not to have a ‘grown-up’ looking after them.

That’s why it’s important to have some strategies in place to quickly assimilate the new language into your skill set as quickly as possible.

Here are some good tips:

  • Learning a language may seem like a giant and daunting prospect, so try breaking it down into small achievable goals. Determine to learn how to say and do one thing at a time. Before you know it one goal leads to another and you begin to grasp the new language.
  • Get yourself some good honest native speaking support. That means someone who will talk with you and give you good honest feedback about your efforts, including correcting you when you get it wrong.
  • Try different ways of learning. Watch foreign language films, read foreign language books and other material, speak with as many people as possible, listen to what people say when. With all enough varied input from native speakers your natural learning style will sort the stuff that works from the stuff that doesn’t.
  • Most of all, have fun. Because the fun times create positive associations in your brain and vastly enhance your learning.

So this thanksgiving give a little thought to language, your own and that of others around the world. Because you never know when you’ll find yourself in a position where your current language skills stop being as useful as they are right now.

Until next time,

The Rocket Languages team

 

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Hola, Salut, and Ciao Language Lovers,

Today I want to talk about two crucial aspects of language learning.

4084Language is one of those things that influences, and is influenced by, a wide range of things. It’s not enough to open a book, learn the rules, and have the sounds come out of your mouth. There’s a whole lot more than the words and phrases you hear and say that go into learning and understanding any language.

Language is a living thing that’s constantly growing and changing. As such it requires constant practice and use to keep it fresh and current. You know the old saying, ‘Use it or loose it’, well that couldn’t be more true than with language learning.

The best way to do that is to listen to and speak with native speakers. Another is to use technology like Rocket Record to match up the way you speak with the way it’s supposed to sound. But just how is it ‘supposed’ to sound?

One of the eternal criticisms of young people, no matter what culture they’re in, is that the new-fangled way they speak is ruining the language. These days it’s all ‘like’ and ‘innit’ and ‘yeah’ and ‘totally’. The fact is though, without young people, and people new to the culture, we wouldn’t have the language we have today.

Did you know that nearly 30% of the English language is actually derived from French!

That just goes to show you much things have changed in just a few hundred years. English certainly hasn’t always been spoken the way it is today. Imagine if we still spoke the way they do in Shakespeare’s plays! And yet some people say that the young of today are ruining the language. They forget that their parents said that about them once too, and their parents before them…

That’s how language develops, as a part of contemporary culture.

One of the best things you can do to help grow your language skills is to check out other aspects of the culture. Watch a movie in the language, even if you use the subtitles you’ll get a feeling for how the language works. Try cooking, or buying, food from the culture. Get out and talk to people who use the language as often as you can, or find away that you can speak out loud and get good accurate feedback.

Another great way to indirectly help your language development is to watch documentaries about the country in question. So, if Spanish is your thing, watch a doco about Spain or Latin America. There are two great benefits you’ll get. First you’ll get a better understanding of the culture. Second, you’ll be re-inspired to press on with your langauge learning.

So the two big take-aways here are:

  • Embrace change, because it’s going to happen anyway
  • Embrace cultures, because language is nothing without the culture that fosters it.

 

Happy language learning,

Phil.

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Bonjour tout le monde !

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Brand New 2014 Edition Out Now!

We are pleased to announce the release of the 2014 Edition of all our Rocket Languages courses. A lot of thanks goes to the hard working Rocket team, as well as quite a few members who contributed to the cause.

The major changes are;

My Dashboard

A new more user-friendly Dashboard; this style of Dashboard will work a lot better on a range of devices and screen sizes. Also, it gives you an “at a glance” overview of your progress through the course.

You’ll see that each Lesson icon on the Dashboard has smaller icons within it, typically one or more of H, W, K, and Q. These relate to the “Testing” part of each lesson.

Testing

Both the Interactive Audio, and Language & Culture lessons have a “Testing” tab that replaces the old “My Level”.

When you’ve successfully rated the lesson using one of;

  • Hear it Say it! (H)
  • Write it! (W)
  • Know it! (K)
  • or the Quiz (Q)

The respective letter icon on the Dashboard will update along with the corresponding icon at the top right of the actual lesson.

Write it!

Now, Write it! is a new learning tool that we have added in response to members’ suggestions about how to improve their writing of another language. Make sure you check it out it’s pretty cool!

Quiz

Nearly every lesson has a multi-choice quiz. Until now the results of this quiz were not included in the lesson rating. That has now changed and quiz results are now pulled through to the Dashboard!

Lesson layout

Also, the lessons themselves are laid out in a more user-friendly way. For example, the Interactive Audio Course lessons now have the audio for the conversation and extra vocabulary all on the same page.

My Vocab

My Vocab is the tool that lets you double click on a word or phrase and then store it for future reference. We have upgraded this so that when it pops up it also gives you results from Phrase Finder so you can see the word/phrase in different contexts if it is used elsewhere in the course.

Apps and mobile devices

We are currently working on upgrading how Rocket courses work on the apps and with the multitude of devices that are available today. Please be patient with this!

AN IMPORTANT NOTE!

Because we have added new algorithms into determining how the Dashboard works some users may have an odd looking Dashboard until Quizzes or Write it! tests are completed.

Is there anything else?

Well, yes! There are quite a few cosmetic changes that have been made. These are too numerous to list here!

Also, we are working on a couple of other things that should be out before the end of the year, which will also greatly enhance the learning process!

Amicalement

Jason Oxenham
CEO, Rocket Languages

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Hola, Ciao, and Nihao Language Learners,

Ozgur Vural: VP Sales and Business Development

Our new Business Development guy – Ozgur Vural

Rocket Languages is very happy to announce that, after an extensive international search, we’ve appointed Ozgur Vural to the position of Vice President of Sales and Business Development, based stateside in Washington, D.C.

What that means is that Rocket Languages is set to branch out into even more places. You can already buy a Rocket Languages course online, you can also learn a language at loads of libraries using Rocket Languages, and soon, thanks to Ozgur, you may be able to learn at work or at school too!

A senior Business Development professional with a decade-long fast-track career, Ozgur has a proven record of success, and is keen to spread the word about Rocket Languages business and enterprise solutions. Ozgur received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Gardner-Webb University, N.C., and his graduate degree in International Management from University of Maryland Univ. College, M.D.

Ozgur is the former Vice President of Business Development and Growth at ConStrat, a strategic communications and research firm based in Washington, D.C. He spearheaded ConStrat’s development from a $3-million annual revenue generating start-up with 5 employees and small D.C. office; to $20-million annual revenue with 100+ staff and offices in D.C. and Florida. ConStrat was subsequently recognized by Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the US.

Outside of work, Ozgur enjoys spending time with his wife and five-year old son. He’s a voracious reader, a technology enthusiast, loves the outdoors, and volunteers in a mentor/protege program training young professionals in sales and persuasive communications.

For Rocket Languages, working out of Washington, D.C., Ozgur will manage B2B sales operations in the North American market, and contribute to the company’s overall growth strategy. He’ll be focused on bringing the right companies, distributors, affiliates, and partners on board, and negotiating the most beneficial outcomes for all parties.

Jason Oxenham, Rocket Languages’ CEO, let staff know of Ozgur’s appointment in the last week of August. Then Ozgur traveled halfway around the world to spend a week at the Rocket Languages head office in Christchurch, New Zealand, for orientation, corporate strategic planning sessions, and meetings.

Rocket Languages is an international leader in online language learning courses and web applications. Based in New Zealand, the team is fast, innovative, and agile, making for an exciting company culture. The company is recognized for producing quality products, with their courses receiving the PC Mag Editors Choice Award for the best online language learning course, and a BESSIE Award in the Foreign Language Website section.

CEO Jason Oxenham says “The Rocket Languages brand has been around for over 9 years now, and has had over 1,000,000 users. The thing that makes us stand out is that Rocket Languages gets its learners speaking a new language right away, helps them to understand the spoken language, and drastically cuts learning time compared to traditional language learning methods.”

The next step for Rocket Languages, starting with the appointment of Ozgur, is to form some lasting relationships with key organizations, as we already do with Kia Motors.

You can contact Ozgur directly at ozgur@rocketlanguages.com to talk about corporate training, education, or business solutions.

Things are really moving forward at Rocket Languages.

Phil Constable
Rocket Languages, Brand and Communications

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Hola, Salut, and Ciao Language Lovers,

rl-icon-180px

Speak and understand a new language up to 50% faster with Rocket Languages!

This is the final article in this series of blog posts that deal with some of the myths about online language learning.

The last couple of myths that I addressed were;

1. That online courses are pretty much the same as textbooks; which is a myth exploded(!) as technology has advanced and e-learning has become better understood, giving online courses a huge advantage over traditional text books.

2. That learning in a classroom is better than studying online. When you take into account the small amount of one-on-one time with the teacher in a classroom setting, it’s obvious that online learning has many advantages over a classroom. The major pro for classroom study is that they are usually regularly scheduled meaning that students have to turn up and study!

Now, today I’m going to cover a few of the smaller myths, starting with;

1. Online qualifications are not as recognized as off-line qualifications.

How much weight this holds depends on the goals of the person learning. 64% of the people that use Rocket Languages courses are doing so with an eye to traveling in the near future, and to that end we’ve designed our courses to be ultra-practical for having conversations. Because the goal is to gain a conversational foothold in the target language, gaining a formal qualification is not a motivating factor.

If the goal is to gain credibility with your language speaking through gaining an off-line qualification, then online courses can certainly supplement that. Often off-line courses can be very formal and theoretical in nature and/or follow a prescribed path. That means the information learned is not as “conversational” as most people would use in day-to-day life.

2. Another myth out there is that online courses don’t offer the same kind of support as off-line courses…

This is true to an extent, however with voice/video chat technology becoming more readily available, the level of support you can get with an online course is closing the gap fast. Currently we have our popular Rocket Languages forums, where members can get an answer to almost any language question. We’re looking to build on that over the coming months, watch this space…!

3. The final myth I want to delve into is that online courses are harder to complete than off-line courses.

Certainly this can be true if the learner isn’t motivated to do a little bit of study every day. In fact you could say that it doesn’t matter whether you are doing a course off-line or online, if you don’t practice on a regular basis, even if its just 15 minutes a day listening to an MP3 in the car while you commute to work, then you’ll struggle to make real progress.

One of the great things that’s recently been introduced to the e-learning space is gamification; the ability to gain points, badges, and/or rewards for completing different activities. Gamification makes it easier for people to stay motivated to complete courses, games, etc online. And this is something that we built into all Rocket Languages courses with our 2013 Edition, and one of the things we’ll be expanding upon in our upcoming 2014 edition.

So, to wrap it all up… online language learning is moving ahead in leaps and bounds, particularly compared to what’s happening in the off-line world.

I’d like to highlight a couple of Member reviews that we’ve recently received before I sign off.

Here is Mollie Sluss’ (USA) review…

This is a fun way to learn French.  I like the humor incorporated in the lessons.  You learn the language without even realizing what great progress you are making.  To be able to record yourself practicing pronunciation is a tremendous tool to make sure your accent is going in the right direction.  I look forward to studying everyday.  The lessons hold my interest.  I find I retain the information rather readily and the learning curve is not steep at all.  The site is easy to navigate and includes a variety of options to choose to keep it interesting.  I can’t recommend this highly enough.  I compared it to another online course and the other didn’t even come close to measuring up to Rocket Languages.  This is a great launch pad to be on your way to learn a language.

And one from Santosh Kumar (Switzerland)…

I just love it. Rocket German has improved my German skills so much that I was able to communicate in German very easily in such a short span of time. I have tried many websites/tools but nothing comes near to Rocket German. Just try it. you will never regret it.

Remember, if you want to add your own review or see what everyone else has had to say, just click the “Reviews” link at the top of the page!

All the best with your language learning!

Jason Oxenham
CEO, Rocket Languages

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